Marie Curie nurse Brid McCarron on course to be a 'future healthcare leader'

The loss of her mother to cancer inspires Brid McCarron in her vocation as a Marie Curie hospice nurse

Brid McCarron from Newry works as a nurse in Marie Curie’s Belfast hospice and is taking part in a UK-wide healthcare leadership scheme.

A generous £47,575 donation from the National Garden Scheme to the end of life charity Marie Curie is funding a leadership project for a nurse who works at its Belfast hospice.

The National Garden Scheme Nightingale Programme has started for a second consecutive year, with 16 Marie Curie nurses and allied health professionals signed up.

Delegates access leadership and development training which culminates with a graduation in February. Inspired by The Nursing Now Challenge (formerly the Nightingale Challenge), the programme is unique at Marie Curie as it supports the next generation of healthcare leaders in palliative and end of life care.

Brid McCarron (31) is the youngest Marie Curie nurse to take part in the leadership project. Originally from Monaghan but now living in Newry, Brid has worked for Marie Curie in Belfast for nearly two years out of her seven-year career.

She explained how the loss of her mother to cancer, who was also a nurse, inspired her both into palliative care nursing and to be the best nurse she can be throughout her career.

"My family and I have encountered our own personal experience of loss with cancer in 2014 when my mother Colette lost her battle with metastatic lung cancer," she said.

"This was a very tough thing to come to terms with then and still is difficult but each day I think of her when I'm nursing. I believe she is keeping me safe and guiding me to do the right thing which helps me a lot with my grieving. I know she would be so proud of me today.

"Loss is a very hard thing to come to terms with but as the days, weeks, months and years go on you learn to live with it but never forget the lovely memories.

"This is why I have a keen interest in palliative care nursing and I love every second because it is such a rewarding profession I want to help those going through the same experiences I did.

"I want to give them all that they can avail of to try to make the whole process easier for them by providing reassurance and support but most importantly spending time to listening to them and what they have to say and listen to their wishes."

Apart from developing herself as a nurse and healthcare leader, Brid is working on a project that will directly improve the care of her patients by creating a 'Patient Passport'.

She explained: "I would like to ensure that each health professional in the hospice know all about the patients under their care such as their hobbies, interests, likes and dislikes, favourite music and most of all what would they like to get out of their stay with us at Marie Curie Hospice, what are their wishes, etc?

"While we do, of course, do this as nurses, if it's written down in one place and shared by all involved in the care of the person, it will provide a more holistic approach to their care."

Each delegate in The National Garden Scheme Nightingale Programme is assigned a mentor and learning is undertaken via workshops, action learning sets and regular shadowing opportunities. At the graduation next February, each delegate will also share outcomes from their service development or workforce project.

Marie Curie has been a beneficiary of the National Garden Scheme for 26 years, receiving over £10 million in funding, including a £525,000 donation this year.

Money is raised entirely through volunteers opening their gardens to visitors in exchange for a charity donation. The National Garden Scheme is Marie Curie's longest standing charity partner.

George Plumptre, chief executive of the National Garden Scheme, says: "As part of our annual funding for Marie Curie, which we are proud to have given for more than 25 years, targeted support like this for the benefit of Marie Curie professionals is really important to us.

"At a time of unprecedented workforce challenges throughout healthcare, giving these brilliant nurses and other professionals the leadership skills that empower and boost their careers has never been more vital."